“You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital.”
Kevin Kelly

Ten years ago I was shocked to find out how much I didn’t know about the place that I called home. This was the locale where I was born AND grew up in! If I didn’t even know the answers to some of the simplest questions about the place I called home, what other knowledge was I taking for granted?

I first encountered a bioregional quiz when I began studying ecopsychology. Soon after this an A-Ha moment occurred, when one of the connections between nature and leadership suddenly became clear to me.

Try this out and see if you can make the connection on your own.

Re-read each sentence in Kevin Kelly’s excerpt from “The Big Here” above. Substitute the word “place” for “group”, and substitute the word “watershed” with “organization” or “community”.

Exchanging these two words, Kelly makes the perfect case for the way in which human systems mirror natural systems. In fact, human systems ARE natural systems, and THAT is the premise of nature-based leadership.

Tweet:You can’t change a system if you don’t know the system.You can’t change a system if you don’t know the system. Likewise, you can’t change yourself if you don’t know yourself. Effective leadership begins with a deep knowing of who and where you are, and the vision of where you want to go. This goes for your knowledge of your physical world, as well as your community or organization, which is the typical focus of leading for change.

The first bioregional quiz appeared in 1981 under the title, “Where You At?,” in CoEvolution Quarterly, which later evolved into The Whole Earth Review.

This is the first of a 3-part quiz on knowing your bioregion. Each week the questions will get a bit more challenging, by including more of the living system we call modern life on Earth. Enjoy, and let us know what you discover in the comments!

The Big Here Quiz – Week One

I know it’s tempting, but don’t use the web to answer these questions until you’ve given it your best shot. First, take an educated guess, then ask your friends or colleagues to see if more heads are better than one.

1) Point north. (I use this as an ice-breaker in my public talks. The results are usually hilarious!)
2) What time is sunset today?
3) From what direction do storms generally come?
4) How many feet above sea level are you?
5) What was the total rainfall here last year?
6) If you live near the ocean, when is high tide today?
7) Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt?
8) How many days is the growing season here (from frost to frost)?
9) Point to where the sun sets on the equinox. How about sunrise on the summer solstice?
10) Where does the pollution in your air come from?
11) How many days till the moon is full?

Bonus Question

What other cities or landscape features on the planet share your latitude?


Give yourself one point for each unassisted correct answer.
1-3 It’s hard to be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all.
4-5 You’ve got a firm grasp of the obvious.
6-7 You’re paying attention.
8-9 You know where you’re at.
10-11 You not only know where you’re at, you know where it’s at.

Don’t forget to come back for the next installment! See you then.


About the Author

Beverly Winterscheid

Beverly Winterscheid Beverly Winterscheid, Ph.D. is the Founding Partner of the Center for Nature & Leadership, the Leadership Professor at the Bard Sustainability MBA in Manhattan, and the originator of nature-based leadership development. She's combined a career as a business exec with that of developing the current and next generation of leaders, who our world so desperately needs. Her specialty is assisting people in seeing and fulfilling their largest potential in service to the world's greatest needs. She does this through personal coaching, programs at the Center for Nature and Leadership, her writing and speaking engagements, and through the Daughters of Toleza Scholarship Fund, which assists needy Malawian women to obtain a secondary education, which she co-founded. When she's not helping fearless leaders, you can find her sailing on the Chesapeake Bay or in the San Juan Mountains in SW Colorado any time of year! Contact her at beverly@natureleadership.org. View all posts by Beverly Winterscheid

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